Creating The Life of Your Dreams
What does a GREAT life mean to you? That is one of the most important questions an adult can ask and answer.
Too many of us wander through life and never ask ourselves the hard questions. We fantasize that a great life is having money or fame or raising a family, perhaps driving a new car or having a house in the Hamptons, but we never rigorously decide exactly how we want to live our lives. What, exactly, would make your life fantastic in every possible way?
We all know that a great life does not happen by accident. A great life is not inherited and it does not come with a diploma, a promotion, getting married (or divorced), having kids or retiring early. A great life is never automatic and it never comes pre-packaged with the "goodies" of life. Sure, lots of money, a penthouse apartment, political power or winning the Nobel Prize are wonderful things. I encourage you to aspire to any (and all!) of them.
But none of them will guarantee you a great life.
It seems that a GREAT life has a grand purpose, a central theme and a unifying vision. A great life is a lifestyle that is chosen "on purpose" and is lived in service of something greater than itself. A great life is invested, not merely spent.
Second, it seems to me that a GREAT life makes a contribution. A great life uses its talents and abilities to change at least one small corner of the world for the better. A great life stands up, speaks out, and gets things done. A GREAT life makes a difference and leaves the world a better place.
Third, it seems to me that a GREAT life leaves a path for others to follow. It is good to DO great things; it's even BETTER to do great things and teach others to follow your lead. A GREAT life leaves a legacy. A GREAT life inspires the next generation to go further, reach farther, dream bigger and achieve more.
I am convinced that every one of us has the ability and the right to live a GREAT life. Greatness is not reserved for the lucky few, for the rich or the powerful, for the artistic or for any small category of people. A GREAT life is the birthright of every human being, whether we exercise our greatness in designing tall buildings or by teaching our children to stand tall.
Greatness is our birthright, whether we express our uniqueness in business or government, in art or music, in parenting, or in any of the thousands of "small" ways that we often over-look, but which are absolutely essential. Most people remember a special teacher, and many of us had an uncle who taught us to whistle or a grandmother who taught us to read. Perhaps there was a neighbor who taught us to fish, who gave us our first job, or encouraged us when things were hard.
We all have the opportunity, and the challenge, to make a difference and to be GREAT. Each of us is invited to live a life of substance and distinction, a life that changes the world for those we touch.
I love the story of the "star thrower", about a man walking on a beach after a storm, throwing starfish back into the ocean so they wouldn't die on the shore. Someone criticized him for wasting his time, noting there were millions of starfish, that he couldn't possibly throw them all back, and the few he saved wouldn't make any real difference. The man silently bent over, threw a starfish into the surf and replied, "It made a difference for that one."
Set it as your minimum standard to live a GREAT life, and to make a difference. Someday, we will all look back and assess our lives, and when that time comes, we want to look back and smile, knowing we did it well. Set that as your standard, and go for it!